Welcome to Kindergarten at St. Paul's!
We are truly excited about the fun and learning that lies ahead each year for kindergarteners at St. Paul's. Kindergarten is a time filled with milestones and “ah ha” moments. We look forward to sharing in those moments with you and your child.
One of our primary goals each year is to create a safe and rich learning environment for all kindergarten students. Only when children feel safe and cared for can they do their best learning. Your child’s social and emotional growth are as important to us as his or her academic success and we will do our best to meet all of these needs.
Differentiating instruction so that all children have “just-right” work is an important aspect of our work. The children and teachers work as a team to create a classroom environment where children are comfortable recognizing their own needs as learners and where students understand, to the best of their ability, that people learn in different ways.
Another important component of a successful year is a partnership with parents. You are the experts on your child! We love working with parents as a team to ensure the best possible kindergarten experience for everyone. We encourage parents to contact us when they have questions and we frequently get in touch with parents as well.
We hope that if this sounds like a good fit for your child, you will consider coming to visit St. Paul's on a tour to see our kindergarten in person!
The Kindergarten Team
Ms. Baker and Mrs. Joseph in K1
Ms. Mandrapa and Ms. Montgomery in K2
|Dear Pres. Obama: Kindergartners Write Their Hopes |
"Dear President Obama," the letters from kindergarten students began. "Thank you for being my president and for doing such a good job! In the next four years, I hope that you will...."
In a week when newly inaugurated President Barack Obama was barraged with advice, St. Paul's kindergarten students added their opinions about what they'd like him to do in the next four years. On Wednesday morning, the kindergartners watched a video about Pres. Obama, discussed the role of the president, and then put marker to paper.
"The letters are actually going to the White House," observed kindergartner Maya. Indeed. Next week, kindergarten teacher Ms. Mandrapa will send the letters in a bundle to Pennsylvania Ave. (As a side note, St. Paul's Board Co-Chair Jim Dorskind served as Director of Presidential Correspondence under former Pres. Bill Clinton. "Every president particularly likes kids' mail," he said about the kindergartners' missives.)
When it comes to declaring one's hopes for the near future, where does one begin? Some of the students quickly and succinctly articulated their goals for the president — "End war" — while others took a moment to respond to the enormity of the question. Pres. Obama would be reading their words and ideas, so they wanted to get them right.
Our Kindergarten Teachers
Whitney Baker, Kindergarten Teacher, joined St. Paul's in 2010, beginning as a long-term guest teacher. A graduate of Brigham Young University with a B.S., she received her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and CLAD certification from San Francisco State University. Ms. Baker has taught in both Berkeley and Alameda and prior to teaching worked as an Outdoor Guide leading youth on backpacking trips through Southern Utah and Northern California. Ms. Baker enjoys traveling, jogging, sewing, and, ironically, baking.
Kanoelani Connor Joseph joined St. Paul's as Kindergarten Teacher in 2001. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her Master's degree in Education from the University of San Francisco. Mrs. Joseph enjoys dancing hula, spending time with her daughter and son, and taking their dogs for walks at Point Isabel.
Maria Mandrapa, Kindergarten Teacher, holds a California teaching credential, a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in Elementary Education from Pacific University in Eugene, Oregon, and a B.A. in Speech Communications from Portland State University. Ms. Mandrapa joined St. Paul’s as a guest teacher in 2010. She has served as guest teacher in kindergarten and long-term guest teacher in third and fifth grades at St. Paul's. She also has taught in grades four and five in Eugene schools.
Denise Montgomery, Kindergarten Teacher, is an honors graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara. She holds a teaching credential through the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute, as well as an M.F.A. in acting from the University of Delaware. She joined St. Paul's in 2009. Ms. Montgomery was previously the after school drama teacher at Park Day School and loves directing plays with kids. She also enjoys the outdoors, backpacking, reading, meditation, and yoga.
Lower School Librarian
Tracey Cosgrove joined St. Paul's as Lower School Librarian in 2004. Ms. Cosgrove received her B.A. in English Literature from Portland State University and her Master of Library and Information Studies degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She loves to look at books and read - surprise! She especially enjoys time with her family (which includes Liam ’11 and Emma ’14), visiting museums, and playing Frisbee with Percy, the dog, on the beach at the Albany Bulb.
Swim Instructor/P.E. Teacher
Monica Haddad joined St. Paul’s in 2005 as Swimming Teacher and Physical Education Teacher. A native of Brazil, Ms. Haddad holds a Bachelor of Physical Education degree from Federal University of Sao Carlos. She recently earned an American Swimming Coaches Association certificate for levels 1 and 2. She has been a swim teacher, coach, and summer program teacher in the East Bay. Ms. Haddad enjoys swimming (naturally), hiking, playing racquetball at the beach, and biking around the city.
K-3 Performing Arts/Chapel
Susan English Fetcho is in her twenty-second year as K-3 Performing Arts Teacher teaching dance, drama, vocal music, K-2 Chorus, and Third Grade Choir. In addition, Ms. Fetcho teaches second grade art. She serves as Chapel Musician and Arts Coordinator, and has written many of the songs we use in Chapel. She holds a B.A. from Denver University and attended Kodaly Institute for Music Education at Holy Names College. Ms. Fetcho has extensive training in Modern Dance, Choreography, Mime and Mask Theater, and co-directed her own performance company for 14 years. She is co-owner of foundlight.tv, an independent video production company, and loves shape-note singing, writing, travel, and her dogs, Bebop and Tango.
Chaplain & Director of Service Learning
Carol Luther returns for her ninth year at St. Paul’s as Chaplain and Director of Service Learning. Chaplain Luther received her B.A. from Scripps College and her M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1999 and received a certificate in Dreamwork in 2006 and now includes dreams in her fourth grade curriculum. She spent the summer of 2008 as a parish priest in the Alaska Native village of Grayling on the Yukon River. She loves dogs, reading, writing music, hiking, and public transportation.
Director of the After School Program, Co-Director of St. Paul's summer camp
Kenton Young, After School Program Director, joined St. Paul's in 1998. Mr. Young is a graduate of Holy Names University with a B.A. in Liberal Studies. He also has co-directed Aim High, a summer academic and cultural program, at St. Paul's.
Life in Kindergarten at St. Paul's
|A Responsive Classroom Approach|
The Responsive Classroom
approach combines the teaching of social and academic skills. There are six components of this approach: morning meeting, rules and logical consequences, academic choice, guided discovery, assessment, and classroom organization. The underlying goal is to create a classroom community in which all students (and teachers) feel known, understood, and valued as contributing members. Many studies indicate that a commitment to true learning cannot be made by students who do not feel they ‘belong’ to a larger group.
Alternatively, numerous academic studies show that students who don’t feel they belong often end up reacting to that feeling by engaging in negative behavior. Sometimes, they can be ‘turned off’ from school forever.
Through the six Responsive Classroom components, the important social skills of cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control are modeled by teachers and practiced by students. The goal is to work on academic skills as well as social skills in combination.
In kindergarten, each day starts with ‘Morning Meeting.’ The Morning Meeting is made up of four sequential components. The daily practice of these four components gradually weaves a web that binds a class together, with each member experiencing what it feels like to really ‘belong’ to a group.
The components of the Morning Meeting are:
1) The Greeting: children greet each other by name, often including handshaking, clapping, singing, and other activities.
2) Sharing: students share some news of interest to the class and respond to each other, articulating their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a positive manner.
3) Group Activity: the whole class does a short activity together, building class cohesion through active participation. This may be through songs or announcements.
4) News and Announcements: students develop language skills and learn about the events in the day ahead by reading and discussing a daily message posted for them. The message often has questions for the students to respond in writing.
When children are greeting each other in the daily Morning Meeting, they are learning to:
• Acknowledge the presence of themselves and others
• Recognize first and last names
• Listen to others
• Be courteous, considerate, and caring
• Become more secure in a formal social situation
• Follow directions
• Develop auditory perception
• Acknowledge different cultures
• Gain a sense of community and belonging
• Articulate thoughts concisely
• Practice making eye contact with others
• Communicate orally in front of a group
• Communicate clearly in a loud voice
We use a thematic instructional approach to teaching. Thematic teaching is a strategy to develop major concepts in the curriculum into themes that integrate reading, writing, other language skills and math.
Cross-curricular instruction is quite powerful and produces positive outcomes in the classroom including heightened interest in a subject area and a sense of empowerment for the students.
Each year, students enter kindergarten with a wide variety of academic skills. Differentiating instruction, practice, and projects is a key component of the kindergarten program and allows us to accelerate learning by supporting students' strengths.
Differentiation in social studies, science, math, and language arts includes offering students choices in approach and material that highlight their multiple intelligences. St. Paul's faculty includes a Differentiated Instruction coach, Amy Symons, who works with faculty K-8 to fine-tune methods of differentiating instruction.